I just had the weekend of the year. Perhaps my life so far. The ingredient list is simple, but hard to procure, like most good brews are.
I will now go on to elaborate and emphasize why I think this pairing brings all skiers such joy, followed by a illustrated snapshot of these elements in action.
Friends: Above all, you need people to ride with. I've had many epic days spent shredding where I want and how I want. Its nice getting that first track. But its an even better feeling when you spread your arm in gifting and grant that person on the traverse behind you that untouched glory. Its marvelous sitting in the chair with people, cracking jokes about your mom, Gnarnia (if it should exist), things you have gotten your girlfriend to do for you and outrageous lies about the shit you've hucked. Its a wonder to rip down an open, untracked, sparkling, steep and knee deep early morning run with everyone on either side of you both surging with the same adrenaline you are and building stokage off the people are gathering to either side. Homoerotic? Sure sign more girls need to join int he fun, but yes, I love my friends as much (maybe more) than any girlfriend when they are skiing with me on a powder day.
Terrain: Perhaps the least of the factors, because I've had many fun days without this element. But steep terrain and features that challenge your ability, as well as the other riders with you, is essential to that perfect day. Lets face it, pure steep powder is nice, but at the end of the day we would all be looking for something steeper, something with a drop, or something to push our limits further. Without this option and opprotunity, you might as well be skiing groomers. You need good terrrain in order to have the ability to push yourself beyond what you think you can do, and go home at the end of the day with that line pushed out a little further.
Powder: Let me first say that as with the last, you can have a perfectly fun day without this. But again, we are trying to dissect the greatest of the great. The days that make you realize and respect the reverence that is being a do or die skeir. Powder is what brings it all together. Yes you can straightline that gnarley chute into suncups. And sure I'll give you respect for it. But I'll bet that the smile you have at the bottom of that same chute filled full of waist deep pow will be greater than any smile you could muster at any time. Powder reaches into your soul. Its not the fluffiness, the billowing bursts that erupt around you when you slash a turn in it. I think it does what what we all salivate over in ski movies: It slows time down. Everything gets so simple, so easy, so intuitive, so basic you dont even need to think in order to do it. You simply need to wish yourself somewhere, and this magical substance grants you its passage. It is truly an element that everyone who skis needs to experience at least once in their lives.
And now onto that experience. I cannot fully describe what I feel when I ride with all of these factors in play. So let me instead try to paint the picture, instilled in my head, of earlier this morning, when all came together.
We had been skiing till 10:30 that night. It had been snowing the day before, all night, and the day of, into the night. Puking. God had a bout of frozen diarheea. Our tracks would get filled in every two hours. Inevitably, we had to go in. Get food, rest, make plans for tomorrow. We were at a 24 hour fundraiser, and so a chair was open all night. We had given up on the vertical goal. It was too good out of bounds and away from the chairs that counted. We had 6 hours of timorous sleep in a half lit lodge floor. Freezing. Our gear was still wet at dawn when we woke. Some of us ventured out, forgoing breakfast in favor of red bull, to shread the morning leftovers on the one running chair. And the skies magiacally cleared as the sun rose. The snow stopped. The *PRACK* and *POFF*'s of avy control filled in around us as we skied into untouched waist deep glades. At 8:30, we ran to the top and waited at the second chair to take us to the area on the back, which had been fillin in with snow without stop since 4pm the previous day. May I remind you how throughout the night, 2 hours and all trace of your tracks would be gone.
The chair ride up was almost horrendous. The anticipation. The wonder of where should we go, what should we do with it all? As we crested the final hill and broke into the dazzling sunlight, it didnt matter. A handful of people had made tracks before us, so we cut to the side and hit an open area known as Aquarius face. We all skated like mad along the cat track to get there, and dropped in on a count almost simultaneously.
It was deep. With cold crisp fresh untracked before you in such light, the surface sparkles as if its trying to seduce you forward into it. The best sensation I can liken it to is rocketing weightlessly on the surface of a smooth white sparkling ocean, studded with islands of white loaded trees. Turning is effortless. Mindless. You simply wish yourself to go somewhere and you do. It is the closest I know I will ever come to being spiritual. To nirvana. To utter peace and happiness. You look to the side and see your friend slashing a huge crest of powder in a turn and you know from the movement that he/she is experiencing that same bliss as you. And it builds on yours. Life isnt meant to be spent alone investigating and experiencing all that is out there. Humans depend on each other, and the one thing we can do to make the best better is share it with someone else. Cutting through steep and dazzling untracked as deep as I could feel, hand outstretched in a sweeping turn, touching the snow and hearing the harmony of whoops and hollers around me, to which I piqued my own...
Its enough to hopefully get anyone reading to line up the ingredients and stew utter happiness.